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The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber the Choral Album

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Album Review

This album is what it says it is, a collection of recordings of songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals (plus "Pie Jesu" from his classical work Requiem) played in their original orchestrations by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and sung in newly created choral arrangements by the Crouch End Festival Chorus. Many of Lloyd Webber's most popular songs have been included, starting with five from Phantom of the Opera, and including selections from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Tell Me on a Sunday, Cats, Starlight Express, Aspects of Love, and Sunset Boulevard. Of course, as songs for the musical stage, these compositions were conceived for individual voices, and sometimes the massed voices singing them here lend the lyrics an odd tone. This is especially true, for example, of "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," the lament of a discarded mistress, which takes on a different coloration when dozens of women, rather than just one, are singing the main part. To get around this effect, soloists are included, drawn from both the musical theater and opera, with Lesley Garrett leading the way on "Wishing You Were Somehow Here," "Phantom of the Opera," and "Memory"; Sharon Campbell on "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"; Tito Beltrán on "Pie Jesu," and Mary Carewe on "With One Look." Now that Lloyd Webber is in the House of Lords, perhaps the time has come to begin treating him as more a light-classical composer rather than merely a writer of popular show music, or so this album would have us believe. It certainly has managed to make his music sound formal, but the music still works better on the Broadway and West End stages.


Born: 22 March 1948 in London, England

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the most successful composer of musicals of his generation and also a breaker of molds for the form. His predecessors were, for the most part, American: New York-based songwriters steeped in Broadway tradition. Lloyd Webber saw his share of shows as a child, too, but he was born in London, the son of William Lloyd Webber, Director of the London College of Music, and was trained at the Royal Academy of Music, hardly the sort of place where you'd be likely to hear Oklahoma! ...
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